I don’t mind that Dr Who increasingly isn’t for me. I’ll happily watch it if it’s on, but it’s often been about when the sprouts have soon to be abed and to be honest cramming a whole story into forty odd minutes led to a lot of running around and waving a wand in recent years. But that’s all right because it’s a kid show, we forget, and if that’s what’s popular likewise who am I to complain? And I don’t.
I used to be mad on Dr Who. It never used to be repeated and I remember late Pertwee and early Baker as when I would sit there and eat my tea on a Saturday. But just as I knew a lot of radio-comedy I’d never heard I knew bloody everything about Dr Who, most of which I’d never seen, and nearly all because of the Target paper book novelizations. I was a reader as a boy and from a young age, and almost certainly because my mum has more books than what is now my local library. And I recall very clearly (I must have been about eight) being given the brand spanking new edition of Dr Who, Genesis of the Daleks. I’d seen the story on tele, I still like the trench ambiance coupled with the shiny futurism below. I read the book cover to cover and over a couple of evenings in dressing gown, tucked up in bed, and was very sorry when it finished.
This was the time when there were many, many second-hand bookshops. When you would get a paperback for pence from musty shelves, and I gathered quite a collection of the Target books and read ‘em all. I knew, in depth, stories I’d never seen – and here’s the thing, still in some cases never have. Dr Who was episodic then and I suppose this leant itself to the novelizations, often by people that worked on the show – Barry Letts was the long time producer, Terrence Dicks the script editor and where possible Dicks would always strive to have the story's script writer also turn out the novelisation. I like that, it’s so obvious, and of course there were things in the books that were not then in the show and the writer could put in what time, format or the edit had removed. They weren’t big books, but big enough well-pre-teen, to make it a journey but not a chore. I had a lot of these books. One year at Christmas I got something like thirty in one go, all second-hand (all books were to my sure and certain knowledge for much of my life), all in one parcel. That was a cracking Christmas, I’m not sure anyone saw me till new year.
Sadly I sold them some years later when as a youth I needed the money, and the other year I found twenty or so in a charity shop and snapped them up. I’ve not read most since then, or even since I was about twelve - or whenever my taste changed to Moorcock, and Herbert and others.
But it remains one of my fondest childhood memories; tucked up in bed with Dr Who, fresh from a bath and with hours yet till lights out.
I’d had beans-on-toast for tea.
And there was a genesis, for the Daleks.